An Empty Spools Scrapbook in Words and Photos

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA
Kelp strand, Asilomar Beach, Pacific Grove, CA.

I think the downside of keeping many balls aloft is trying to launch another one without creating mayhem. That’s probably why quilting classes and retreats are rare for me:  they are difficult to slide into my routine. Although when they do pop up, I like to park those pesky balls and immerse myself in the experience.

That’s just what happened about a month or so ago when I went on a road trip with my compulsive quilt retreater friend Cyndy Rymer. We steered a course southward to the Monterey Coast for the last session of the 2014 season of the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar.

What’s not to love?  Five days of quilting with a master teacher, camaraderie, seaside hikes, and, best of all, no daily grind at the office, no cooking, and no housekeeping! Perhaps I should stow those balls more often, but I can’t manage Cynderelly’s pace–she’s done +50 classes/retreats to my three!

She Came From the North Pole . . .

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow at Empty Spools 2014Cyndy and I elected to take Canadian Judy Farrow who offered a design class for our week’s immersion.  Neither of us knew much about her so it seemed like a voyage into the unknown, which indeed it was . . .

Upon meeting Judy it’s all to easy to be deceived by her quiet nature and British reserve, but that would be a mistake. She’s spirited, passionate, and very funny. Still, it was surprising to learn that, some 40 years ago, Judy and her husband left comfortable Montreal to teach high school on Baffin Island, a remote and frigid Canadian island that straddles the Arctic Circle. While there, Judy and husband Malcolm travelled extensively by dog team and hunted seals to feed them! These days, after three decades in those northerly climes, she’s ensconced in more-temperate Vancouver.

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow's Moose 2014 Empty SpoolsThat arctic imprint is unmistakable, especially in  her most-renowned quilts, and has served as the starting point for her evolution as quilt artist. (Remarkably, Judy learned the craft from home study of Laura’s curriculum outlined in Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!!) Nowadays Judy’s quilting vernacular is very broad and inventive, although still rooted in inspiration from the environments she has encountered.

Quilt-J:  Judy Farrow's award-winning quilt, Snowy Owl Meets West Coast Totems
Snowy Owl Meets West Coast Totems by Judy Farrow

At Work and Play by the Seaside

While communing with a teacher is the major part of the Empty Spools experience, sharing a classroom with a unique set of fellow quilters is the other side of the equation. It’s at once exhilarating and humbling to experience the aesthetics and skills of other quilt makers. It’s also liberating to hitch a ride on another’s point of view and see how she might tackle the same design exercise.

Dates & Places-J:  Judy Farrow design exercise Empty Spools 2014
You’d think 25 blocks would be easy to arrange, but 10 quilters with 10 ideas? Design exercise by Judy Farrow, Empty Spools, 2014.

Another Empty Spools feature is the Artist-in-Residence program. Gail Abeloe, owner of Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, just down the road from Asilomar, wrapped up the 2014 program with an opening night talk and exhibition of her work. The rest of the week Gail repurposed orphan blocks from her past projects and created brand new quilts. I slotted in daily visits to Gail’s workstation in the main hall, just across the way from Carolie Hensley’s pop-up quilt shop, to see her progress. Wow! It certainly helps that she has the best stash ever (quilt shop owner–duh!) and a superb eye for color.

Dates & Places-J:  Gail Abeloe's posse Empty Spools 2014
Phew, Gail (right) survived her debut as Artist in Residence and shares smiles with her sister, Jill Abeloe Mead, an editor at American Patchwork & Quilting, and mother, Dorothy Abeloe.

Probably the hardest part of quilting by the sea is ignoring the call of the surf, especially when the sun is shining and the breeze carries that salty tang. On “good” days, Cyndy and I walked the shoreline morning, noon, and night, but sometimes we just couldn’t fit in a third stroll what with class work, making friends in the dining hall, and checking out the evening programs offered by Empty Spools.  Although, once we experienced one sublime Pacific sunset, we were hooked for the rest of our stay. See my sunset photo essay below. Three consecutive nights of the setting sun:  same time/same place–each distinct.

Here’s my parting thought about quilt retreats–go when you can and, if Empty Spools is on your horizon, do it!

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA #1

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CA #2

Dates & Places-J:  Sunset Pacific Grove, CAJ-Signaturep.s.  Did I  forget to mention the picturesque town of Pacific Grove, just a mile or so down the road from Asilomar? Well, it’s eye candy central for many reasons, among them:  Kidwell’s Paint.

Dates & Places-J:  Window eye candy Kidwell's Pacific Grove, CA
Best paint store window ever! Kidwell’s Paint, Pacific Grove, CA.

 

 

Quilt Show Twofer: Bay Area Quilters Strut Their Stuff

Our peach and pear trees are blossoming; California golden poppies are in early bloom; the local birds with bright, fresh feathers are singing and searching for nesting spots; and the papers and catalogs are replete with full-color Spring fashions. Yes, it’s that time of year . . . time to shed winter wear and don lighter, brighter plumage.

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Why stay at home when there is so much Spring energy and excitement beckoning us to get away and enjoy our sunny weekends? This weekend, March 22-23, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and/or the wine country of the Napa and Sonoma valleys, consider browsing one or both of two spectacular quilt shows.

The East Bay Heritage Quilters are presenting Voices in Cloth 2014:  Extraordinary Quilts by the Bay. The show is being held at the Craneway Pavillion, 1414 Harbour Way South on the Richmond Waterfront. Click here for hours, ticket prices, and directions as well as a list of vendors, artists, and demonstrations. There will be over 200 exciting quilts and garments displayed. EBHQ always stages an inspiring show so be sure to allow enough time for shopping after taking in all the beautiful quilts.

Raffle quilts at the 2014 Voices in Cloth Quilt Show
Raffle quilts at the 2014 Voices in Cloth Quilt Show

For those who want to head northward from San Francisco, I will be the “Featured Artist” at the Sonoma Q.U.I.L.T. (Quilters United in Loose Threads) show. Started in 2003, by a group of local quilters who wanted to show off their work, this smaller show is a fun stop on the quilt show circuit. It’s early moniker, Sonoma’s 1st Occasional Funky Quilt Show and Sale, gives you a sense of its free-spirited style. Sonoma Q.U.I.L.T. takes place at The Vintage House, 264 First Street East in Sonoma, CA. There is so much to experience in Napa and Sonoma so why not combine the show visit with a bit of wine tasting, dining, or even taking a balloon tour?  Click here for a calendar of events taking place in the area. (And, stop by and say “hello,” I’d be so happy to visit with our SHWS readers!)

Grandmother's Flower Garden by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.
Grandmother’s Flower Garden by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.

Hope to see you at one of the shows! If not, enjoy a lovely weekend filled with fun and inspiration.

L1-Signature

The Latest from that Amazing Quilter, Gwen Marston (+ a Giveaway!)

1-Giveaway IconAt one time or another, I suspect we’ve all had the experience of meeting someone new and feeling that immediate “click” of connection–the perfect description of my first encounter (in 1989!) with legendary and beloved Michigan quilter, Gwen Marston.

Gwen Marston
Gwen Marston

I wrote about Gwen, her then most-recent work, and her wonderful book, 37 Sketches, in a post back in January 2012. It’s a tribute to Gwen’s enduring popularity that this post remains one of our all-time, most-often viewed here at See How We Sew. Now, two years later, I decided it was time to check back with Gwen to find out what’s new. The answer? Lots!

First up: Gwen Marston, Contemporary Quilts, a solo exhibit at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, MI. This exhibit runs through April 27 and includes work that Gwen has created in the past eight years, in which she continues to simplify, to melt the elements down to their most basic forms, allowing the color to speak in a stronger voice. Some of the pieces are the Small Studies from the aforementioned 37 Sketches (2011).D_Jan 27_37 Sketches Cover(1) (2)

"Small Study 4 (9" x 11") made and machine quilted by Gwen Marston; 2010
“Small Study 4 (9″ x 11″) made and machine quilted by Gwen Marston; 2010

Others are from her earlier book, Ideas and Inspirations: Abstract Quilts in Solids (2008).

Ideas and Inspirations cover

Broken Dishes (38" x 37"), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008
Broken Dishes (38″ x 37″), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008
Three Triangles (35" x 36"), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2010
Three Triangles (35″ x 36″), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2010
Red Square VI (39" x 42"), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008
Red Square VI (39″ x 42″), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008

Still others reflect Gwen’s ongoing explorations, in which she pushes even further, working in a decidedly minimal style. This fresh, exciting, stripped-down approach takes center stage in–more news!!!–Gwen’s brand-new book, Minimal Quiltmaking, scheduled for publication by the American Quilter’s Society on March 1!

Gwen's newest, publishing March 1
Gwen’s newest, publishing March 1

Wouldn’t you like to be first among your friends to own Minimal Quiltmaking? Well, it happens that we’ll have a copy to give away to one of our readers as soon as the book hits the shelves. Just leave a comment by noon (PST) Thursday, February 20, telling us whether you consider yourself a “minimalist” or “maximalist” quilter (for example, in style, size or variety of your fabric stash, reliance on notions, degree of advance planning) and I’ll announce a winner in my Friday, February 21 post.

Finally, here’s a special treat! The Dennos Museum Center has placed Gwen’s entire presentation from the exhibit’s January 18 opening reception on YouTube. Watch and enjoy!

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!Darra-signature

Hari-Kuyo – The Ceremony of Broken Needles

In Japan, the Hari-Kuyo ceremony is held throughout Japan annually on the 8th of February. This 400-year-old tradition is held at Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples as a celebration of the small tools used by seamstresses, embroiderers, and housewives over the previous year.

It is believed that these inanimate objects have souls and by using them, some of their pain is released. Broken or worn needles, pins, and some small scissors are brought to the ceremony and thanked for their good service in creating sashiko, kimonos, or even for daily mending. Then they are gently laid to rest in a soft tofu cake.

harikuyo

Tofu is symbolic in this instance for rest and tenderness; a peaceful place for the tools retirement. In observance of the ceremony, no sewing is to take place on this day, as this gives time for  reflection and time to pray that sewing skills improve the following year. Audrey Yang tells of the ceremony in a beautiful online booklet- Hari-Kuyo: Festival of the Broken Needle.

Stitch Modern Ceremony

East Bay Modern Quilt Guild held a version of this meaningful ceremony last Saturday, February 8th, as part of a series of events connected with Stitch Modern 2014, their annual show.

Photo by Pati Fried

I found paying my respects and praying to console my broken needles a wonderful opportunity to share in a time honored tradition . I spend so much of my day with needle and scissors in hand. It was a moment to reflect on my year as a quilter and to be thankful of the accomplishments made with these tiny tools. I have always tossed them away without regard to their importance to my craft. This was an opportunity to change my thinking.

Photo by Pati Fried

The ceremony was thoughtful and welcoming. Birgit Hottenrott, the driving force to celebrate Hari-Kuyo at Stitch Modern, shared the history and lore that has evolved with this special day. While she spoke, many brought their broken needles to rest in the peaceful bed of tofu. Birgit ended the ceremony with the lovely poem by Emily Dickinson, Don’t put up my Thread and Needle.

Photo by Pati Fried

Thank you Birgit, for bringing this lovely tradition to our attention. As this year proceeds, I fully intend to keep a special place for retiring my used needles until February 8, 2015, when I will again, pay them the respect they deserve and celebrate Hari-Kuyo.

Photo by Pati Fried

ではまた。Dewa mata, (See you later).

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Embracing Creativity

I was at a planning meeting this week for one of my favorite quilt events of the year – Stitch Modern. I wanted to share with you some of the interesting events that they are sponsoring this year, but first, let’s talk a bit about embracing your creativity.???????????

One of the things I am most excited about lately, is looking outside my normal routine to find inspiration around me. I find that choosing  a different door to open (or color, or fabric, or technique) leads to opportunities I never imagined. Wednesday morning was no exception. Gather nine people around a table with some coffee and pastries and you never know where the brainstorming will lead! So many great ideas! Okay, okay, I know this happens everywhere, everyday. But, isn’t this how many of our quilt guilds, meetups, shows and events start out? Embracing a creative idea usually makes our  community stronger – and definitely more exciting.  It also leads us down paths not normally taken. Hmmmm. Thinking outside of that ever-looming box is most always a good thing!

So, the next time you nix an unusual idea because it isn’t the way its always been done, remind yourself that the most unique and creative aspects of our world would not exist if there wasn’t once a crazy idea that was embraced.  And with that, I share with you examples of upcoming events that started with simple creative ideas. Be sure to follow the links to read about all the inspiring events they have planned!

Stitch Modern 2014 

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The East Bay Modern Quilt Guild’s 3rd annual quilt show.  As a group, East Bay Modern focuses on modern design and personal expression through quilting. As a non-juried show, there are no hard rules – this is quilting our own way, whether it’s with the latest fabrics and traditional patterns, or free piecing with no pattern at all!     Jan 31 – Feb 23rd at Piedmont Center of the Arts , 801 Magnolia Ave, Piedmont, CA.  Gallery Hours: 12pm-3pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Jan 31: 6pm-9pm – Opening Reception 

Feb 8: 12:30pm-2:30pm -

Needle Ceremony                                                                                                                     12:30pm-1:00pm                                                                                                                 An informal memorial service for our spent sewing needles and pins based on the Japanese Hari kuyou ceremony which happens on February 8th. Bring your spent machine, hand sewing, and pins and join us in celebrating our tools and their service.

Beyond the Bed: Exploring Quilts in the Public Eye
1:00-2:30pm
In a panel moderated by Kim Andersson of i adore pattern, we will be discussing how quilters go about getting their work “seen” and talking to professionals in the world of fiber art including publishers, curators, and artists.

Feb 9: 12:00pm-2:30pm – Family and Community Activity Day                                        There will be quilting demos, quilt-relatated activities for children and an opportunity to create blocks to be used in children’s charity quilts.

Feb 13: 7pm-8:30pm -  Lecture: Ben Venom & Roderick Kiracofe 

Feb 16: 12pm-3pm – Sew Day with the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild  

Feb 23: 9:30am-4pm -Workshop: Round Robin Improv with Sherri Lynn Wood

WWII Home Front Quilt Challengecropped-Banner-070913-c1

A collaboration of San Francisco Bay Area quilt enthusiasts, arts organizations, museums and historical associations, The Rosie the Riveter Trust, and National Park Service staff and volunteers. The WWII Home Front theme was chosen to promote interest in the new NPS Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, located in Richmond, California. The Park Visitor Education Center is located next to the Craneway Pavilion and the historic Ford Building, which played a significant role in WWII. Voices in Cloth 2014 is the Bay Area’s premier quilt show, produced biennially by the East Bay Heritage Quilters.Up to 80 quilts will be chosen by jury for exhibition in an online gallery beginning in March 2014, and at Voices in Cloth in Craneway Pavilion on March 22 & 23, 2014. 

New Indie Modern Group Forming

And if you live in the Danville, CA area -Come to the 1st meeting of a new group that promises to embrace all crazy, creative ideas with enthusiasm!

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All for now! Happy Friday!

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Diana McClun: The Other Half of the “Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!” Partnership + EXCITING Giveaway!

Laura Nownes and Diana McClun celebrating the publication of a brand new edition of Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!!
Laura Nownes and Diana McClun celebrating the publication of a brand new edition of “Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!!” with a book signing at Alden Lane Nursery
in Livermore, California on Sunday, November 24, 2013.

1-Giveaway IconAs mentioned in my website bio, I never imagined I’d be hanging out with the co-authors of my early favorite quilting book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! And what’s more, that I’d count the co-author, Diana McClun, as a friend, mentor, and even neighbor. Wow, that’s a mind-boggler!

A favorite star quilt project from an earlier edition of Q!Q!!Q!!! showcased in the holiday shop at Alden Lane Nursery.
A favorite star quilt project from an earlier edition of Q!Q!!Q!!! showcased in the holiday shop at Alden Lane Nursery.

Diana has kindly taken an interest in my various flights of quilting fancy and has been a support with her acute insights. Actually, it’s like having Julia Child bless my cooking when Diana compliments my quilt-in-the-making. Come to think of it, there’s much those two women have in common:  strong characters, unerring taste, sound instincts, and gumption. Yes, serious gumption!  There’s the height thing too, although I believe Julia had a slight advantage.

Diana is my blogging sister Laura’s long-time creative partner and, in my view, she is one of the great ladies of our craft. She caught the quilting wave early on and has ridden the trend to great success. Her iconic San Francisco Bay Area quilt shop Empty Spools was a hub of quilting and crafting activity for many years and helped to launch the careers of innumerable textile artists and our own quilting media mogul Alex Anderson.

I'm predicting this will be one of the fave quilt projects from the new Q!Q!!Q!!!
I’m predicting this will be one of the fave quilt projects from the new Q!Q!!Q!!!

Diana’s Busy Quilting Life

But the Empty Spools shop was only one aspect of Diana’s quilting mission. This quilting entrepreneur is/was/and will always be a committed educator welcoming all those who want to learn the craft. As Laura’s told me, and it’s a truth to which a legion of global quilt-makers can attest, “Show a glimmer of interest and Diana is your greatest advocate.”

She’ll always tell you that her achievements in the quilting industry result from collaborations with talented partners, but the reality is that Diana is/was/and will always be the galvanizer, the woman with big dreams and the commitment to seeing them realized.

Classic blocks reset with a modern flair--tempting new quilt projects from the new Q!Q!!Q!!!
Classic blocks reset with a contemporary touch–tempting new quilt projects from the new Q!Q!!Q!!!
Although Diana and Laura designed and made many quilts for the book, they also commissioned quilts
from a team of contributors. Leaf through the new book to learn about these talented quilters.

In a storied career, she’s co-founded the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar (25+ years and still going strong) and teacher-development seminars with C&T Publishing. She’s co-hosted The Great American Quilt, a 13-week PBS series; co-developed the From Me to You quilt pattern line; and co-authored a library of quilting titles from The Quilt Digest Press, C&T Publishing, and Breckling Press.

A fresh interpretation of a Pinwheel block by playing with scale and a minimal color palette.
Playing with scale and a limited color palette delivers a fresh interpretation
of a classic Pinwheel block.

Even though Diana is, for all intents and purposes, “retired” from her larger quilting enterprises, she still teaches beginning quilters through her church and keeps up her creative partnership with our own Laura Nownes. Look what they just accomplished:  a brand-new version of their classic instructional guide and the all-time quilting bestseller Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! (a third edition).

In autumn 2014, Diana and Laura will display +100 quilts from their teaching collection at Alden Lane Nursery’s Quilting in the Garden event in Livermore, California. (We’ll share details as they develop.) Before that, though, they will be the featured artists at the 2014 Road to California show in Ontario, California.

QQQ3 cover
The honor roll: three editions of “Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts.”

Diana’s Quilting Roots

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Diana several times for feature articles and learning about her quilting roots. It’s within that personal history that Diana’s commitment to excellence in quilting education shines.

Diana is the only daughter of an Idaho farming family. She grew up with a very close relationship to her mother and two grandmothers who were her primary companions. All were skilled in many domestic arts, which they imparted to an eager apprentice. Fabric scraps and notions were her playthings. Even when she was small, they respected her input and incorporated her ideas into their handiwork. The benefit of living close to nature also allowed Diana to share vivid moments with her mother, marveling at a perfect flower in bloom and enjoying a bright shiny afternoon. And, like a proverbial farmer’s daughter, Diana excelled in the local 4-H and won her first recognition for sewing excellence at a local and national exhibitions.

Dazzling quilt projects featured in the new edition of Q!Q!!Q!!!
Dazzling quilt projects featured in the new edition of Q!Q!!Q!!!

These early experiences and her innate abilities prepared Diana to win a  full scholarship to university where she studied clothing and textiles arts. She pursued graduate work and taught tailoring classes at San Francisco State University. Even as Diana deftly handled academic commitments and a growing family, she also zeroed in on creating learning opportunities for those who wanted to learn sewn crafts.

The Empty Spools shop was her most ambitious step into crafting education at that time. (Boy, do I wish I could have seen the store in its heyday!)  Laura still gets a little misty when she recalls the bustle and bubbling creativity generated by a crowd of fevered crafters intent on learning the latest techniques. Empty Spools is where Diana and Laura’s epic creative partnership began with the development of the very first edition of Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! and it is fitting indeed that the duo has come full circle 25 years later to deliver a retooled edition for a new generation of quilt makers.

Isn't it amazing what striped fabric can do? A little project magic from the new Q!Q!!Q!!!
Isn’t it amazing what striped fabric can do? A little project magic from the new Q!Q!!Q!!!

From all of us with dog-eared copies of the original books, many thanks to you, Diana, for your vision and commitment to us, and to you, Laura, for supplying the means to teach thousands upon thousands of students how to quilt.

Here's a sneak peak at Diana McClun's latest quilt making exploration--check back Friday for more.
Here’s a sneak peak at Diana McClun’s latest quilt making exploration–check back Friday for more.

Next time at See How We Sew, I have the honor of sharing Diana’s first and latest quilts with all of you–BTW, that’s this Friday. Diana is awe-inspiring to me. After years of designing and making “teaching” quilts, she’s had little time to follow her own quilting muse.  Let me tell ya, she’s got an intense and demanding muse to satisfy, and boy does she!

Giveaway Details!

Laura has just told me that she would be happy to giveaway a copy of the BRAND NEW Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! to a lucky reader.  Here’s your question:  What’s your favorite quilt or tip from any edition of the book?  Leave me a comment by Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 28 and I’ll announce a winner in Friday’s post.  Get that turkey in the oven and sent us a comment!

J-Signaturep.s. Just a head’s up:  If the pattern goddess is kind, I just might be able to announce the completion of my Christmas Tree skirt pattern on Friday as well.  That’s a huge maybe considering it’s Thanksgiving week, but I’m going for optimism.  Muses . . . goddesses . . . benign entities . . . please!

Quilts & Cookies in the Garden: Join Laura Nownes and Diana McClun for a Quilts!Quilts!!Quilts!!! Book Signing!

Lately, with my husband’s recent retirement, we have spent quite a bit of our time traveling. Sometimes he accompanies me on business trips, while other jaunts are just for fun.

gingersnaps

On our recent trip to Portland, OR, while other tourists spent time waiting in long lines for the world-famous VooDoo Doughnuts (also posted by Jennifer here) or Portland’s popular farm-to-cone handmade ice cream shop, Salt and Straw, I found my self happily browsing the aisles at Penzeys Spices located in downtown Portland. Knowing I had lots of holiday baking in my future, I filled my small shopping basket with all of my favorite spices:  two types of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, etc. Notice I purchased them in zip lock bags. They were less expensive plus I can now put them in my own decorative containers!

Garlic for baking you ask? Actually, the clerk popped this one into my bag as a thank you gift. Scary when you spend enough to get a freebie.
Garlic for baking you ask? Actually, the clerk popped this one into my bag as a thank you gift.
Scary when you spend enough to get a freebie.

I mention this today as I am spending time in my kitchen baking batches and batches of  my two favorite cookies (sugar and gingersnaps) for the BIG event on Sunday – an exhibit of all the quilts in our very latest edition of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! Yeah! Since I have no idea how many guests will be joining us, I plan to bake until the ingredients run out. It is a good thing that cookies freeze well.

While making the dough for the gingersnaps, I couldn’t resist (please don’t tell!) taking a small taste. Wow, I had no idea what a difference good-quality spices could add to the flavor. If you like ginger as much as I do, here’s the recipe for these delicious treats, compliments of my friend Sherry.

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GINGERSNAPS

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened * 1/2 cup sugar * 1/2 cup brown sugar * 1/3 cup dark molasses * 1 egg * 2 cups flour * 2-1/2 tsp. ginger * 1/2 tsp. cinnamon * 1/4 tsp. allspice * 1 tsp. baking soda * 3/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugars. Add molasses and mix. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and mix. Chill for 1 hour. Form into small balls and then roll in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins.

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Here’s a copy of the invitation to our party. There will be lots of quilts, music, flowers, refreshments, and of course, cookies! Please come help us celebrate if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Until next time, happy sewing everyone.

L1-Signature

A California Quilter Crosses the Pond: Part 2–A Feast of Stitching Inspiration (+ Giveaway)

Giveaway-GoldThe jet lag may be history, but I’m still bubbling with inspiration from my recent “holiday” in the UK. In addition to the Autumn Quilt Festival Malvern, which I shared in my Tuesday post, the trip provided a feast of ideas for future stitching projects. Sunday saw us off to London with our hosts Neil and Chris Porter.

Off to London, via Paddington Station!
Off to London, via Paddington Station!

Of course, we took tons of photos, including the expected . . .

The gates of Buckingham Palace
The gates of Buckingham Palace
Big Ben towering over the Houses of Parliament
Big Ben towering over the Houses of Parliament

. . . but there was plenty of the unexpected, too. Look here, look there–ideas for stitching everywhere! We hadn’t even left the station before the show began. The gorgeous archways and metalwork of Paddington Station were rife with potential for applique and quilting.

Paddington Station
Paddington Station

Once on the street, the show continued.

Wouldn't this make a great quilting or border design?
Wouldn’t this make a great quilting or border design?

And then, of course, the museums . . .

More inspiring metalwork in the Victoria & Albert Museum
More inspiring metalwork in the Victoria & Albert Museum
I can see the beginnings of a Modern Quilt in these stained glass windows at the V&A.
I can see the beginnings of a Modern Quilt in these stained glass windows at the V&A.
Medallion inspiration; one of many beautiful mosaic floors at the V&A. Note the tiny nine patches.
Medallion inspiration; one of many beautiful mosaic floors at the V&A. Note the tiny nine patches.
Here's another.
Here’s another.
Looking for a border?
Looking for a border?
How about this one?
How about this one?
There's patchwork inspiration in the floors at the V&A as well.
There’s patchwork inspiration in the floors at the V&A as well.
More from the V&A
More from the V&A
Another border idea
Another border idea

Later in the week, we ventured out deep into the Cotswolds, for a day at Sudeley Castle, (final home and resting place of Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII) and another through the Mendips for visit to the historic–and exquisite–Wells Cathedral.

Medieval ruins on the site of Sudeley
Medieval ruins on the site of Sudeley
Reflecting pool at Sudeley, near the chapel housing the tomb of Katherine Parr
Reflecting pool at Sudeley, near the chapel housing the tomb of Katherine Parr
Wells Cathedral, west view
Wells Cathedral, west view
Vicars' Close, Wells
Vicars’ Close, Wells

There was lots to inspire at both . . .

The incredible vaulted ceiling at the Chapter House, Wells Cathedral
The incredible vaulted ceiling at the Chapter House, Wells Cathedral
Worn gray cobblestones in a grassy green grid; more Modern Quilt inspiration?
Worn gray cobblestones in a grassy green grid; more Modern Quilt inspiration?
Late flowers bloom in the gardens at Sudeley
Late flowers bloom in the gardens at Sudeley
Recreation of a Roman mosaic on the Sudeley grounds
Recreation of a Roman mosaic on the Sudeley grounds
More patchwork floors to inspire, this one at Sudeley
More patchwork floors to inspire, this one at Sudeley

When it comes to the relationship between tile floors and quilts, I couldn’t have had a better guide than my hostess, Chris Porter. Chris has made dozens (hundreds?) of quilts based on the decorative floor tiles not only of the UK, but throughout Europe as well.

Chris with her quilt Venetian Celebration (104" x 104"), inspired by the floor tiles of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice
Chris with her quilt Venetian Celebration (104″ x 104″), inspired by the floor tiles of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice

book cover 2She has also written a number of books on the subject, the first of which–originally published as Quilt Designs from Decorative Floor Tiles–has recently been re-released in paperback with a new cover and new title, Quilts Beneath Your Feet.The book includes complete instructions for ten quilts in both “traditional” and alternative colorways, along with a Block and Border Library so that you can create your own tile-inspired designs. Here are a few of the beautiful project quilts.

Turning the Corner by Christine Porter; inspired by floor tiles in a chemist shop (pharmacy) in the Lake District.
Turning the Corner by Christine Porter; inspired by floor tiles in a chemist shop (pharmacy) in the Lake District.
Terracotta Flower Garden (34 1/2" x 34 1/2") made by Christine Porter; inspired by floor tiles in the parish church in Kendal, UK
Terracotta Flower Garden (34 1/2″ x 34 1/2″) made by Christine Porter; inspired by floor tiles in the parish church in Kendal, UK
Lightning Strike (40" x 60") made by Christine Porter; inspired by the floor tiles in Bristol Cathedral
Lightning Strike (40″ x 60″) made by Christine Porter; inspired by the floor tiles in Bristol Cathedral
Turn of the Season (57" x 70") made by Christine Porter; inspired by the floor tiles in All Saints Church, Bristol
Turn of the Season (57″ x 70″) made by Christine Porter; inspired by the floor tiles in All Saints Church, Bristol
Scottish Fantasia (40" x 40") made by Christine Porter; inspired by floor tiles in St. Anderw's Catherdral, Inverness, Scotland
Scottish Fantasia (40″ x 40″) made by Christine Porter; inspired by floor tiles in St. Anderw’s Catherdral, Inverness, Scotland

Now for the GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment telling us the most inspiring place you’ve ever visited by noon (PDT), Monday, November 2, and you’ll be eligible to receive a copy of Chris’s book, Quilts Beneath Your Feet. Don’t delay! Laura will announce the winner in her Tuesday, November 3 post.

One final note before I sign off. Laura, Jennifer, Pati, and I would like to thank all of our loyal readers who voted for us in the 2013 Craftsy Blogger Awards competition. Although we weren’t among the winners in the final tally, we appreciate your support and hope you’ll continue to visit us regularly here at See How We Sew. You can see the list of winners by clicking here. Congratulations all!

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!Darra-signature

A California Quilter Crosses the Pond: Part 1 — A Sampling of Quilts from Autumn Quilt Festival Malvern

Feeling a bit jet-lagged at the moment, but it’s all good. I’ve just returned from an incredible ten-day visit with my friend (and co-author), Chris Porter, and her husband Neil in Bristol, England. My last visit was in 2010, and Chris and I were in the mad scramble to meet the deadline for our book, A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue. Between the cold January weather and the business in the sewing room, there was little time to play. Not this time!

Breakfast in Bristol--that's "oatmeal" to us Yanks
Breakfast in Bristol–that’s “oatmeal” to us Yanks

As luck would have it, the tail end of this year’s visit coincided with the opening of the 2013 Autumn Quilt Festival in Malvern. Although there is no competition at this event (as there is at Quilts UK, held at the same site each May), the show overflows with special quilt exhibits to enjoy–and vendors, of course!

In today’s post, I’ll share a peek at some of the wonderful quilts. In Friday’s post, I’ll offer a raft of patchwork, applique, and quilting inspiration gleaned from day trips to London, Sudeley Castle, and Wells Cathedral–along with a quilt or two, naturally. There will also be a giveaway, so be sure to check back.

Sudeley Castle . . . just to whet your appetite for Friday's post
Sudeley Castle . . . just to whet your appetite for Friday’s post

So now, on with the show!

Advent 2000 by Marlene Chaffey, Exeter
Advent 2000 by Marlene Chaffey, Exeter
Jacobean Rhapsodies by Margaret Ede, Cornwall
Jacobean Rhapsodies by Margaret Ede, Cornwall
Hearts Aflutter by Marlene Chaffey, Exeter; a sweet interpretation of the traditional Shoofly pattern
Hearts Aflutter by Marlene Chaffey, Exeter; a sweet interpretation of the traditional Shoofly pattern
Pietre Dure by Sue Davies, Buckinghamshire
Pietre Dure by Sue Davies, Buckinghamshire
Pietre Dure, detail
Pietre Dure, detail
Jean Bartlett of Devon made great use of a whimsical cow print in her quilt, Till the Cows Come Home. Looks like this one took a ribbon in a previous competition. Note the "moo" quilting in the border!
Jean Bartlett of Devon made great use of a whimsical cow print in her quilt, Till the Cows Come Home. Looks like this one took a ribbon in a previous competition. Note the “moo” quilting in the border!
Till the Cows Come Home, detail
Till the Cows Come Home, detail

Ferret is the unusual “alias” of an award-winning longarm quilter and textile artist from Middlesex. Her special exhibit was full of surprises, as demonstrated in this amazing wholecloth quilt. Wish the photo were better, but wait until you see the detail!

Winter Star by Ferret, Middlesex
Winter Star by Ferret, Middlesex
Winter Star, detail; Ferret says: "The 'patches' are all hand-guided--no marking, no computer."  Wow!
Winter Star, detail; Ferret says: “The ‘patches’ are all hand-guided–no marking, no computer.” Wow!

Here’s another of Ferret’s pieces.

Skadi by Ferret, Middlesex
Skadi by Ferret, Middlesex

I loved the special exhibit of stitched landscape quilts by Kathleen Matthews, showcasing the projects from her book, appropriately titled Stitched Textiles: Landscapes. All were beautifully framed and mounted, making them a bit hard to photograph, but wonderful to behold.

Flower Garden by Kathleen Matthews
Flower Garden by Kathleen Matthews

Vineta Cable of Devon had a special exhibit of quilts inspired by Venice, and featuring her hand-dyed and painted fabrics. Here are two examples.

Marble Halls: Light & Echoes by Vineta Cable, Devon
Marble Halls: Light & Echoes by Vineta Cable, Devon
Winter in Venice: Stones & Water by Vineta Cable, Devon; note the gondola imagery Vineta incorporated into the lower left quadrant of this lovely quilt.
Winter in Venice: Stones & Water by Vineta Cable, Devon; note the gondola imagery Vineta incorporated into the lower left quadrant of this lovely quilt.

These next quilts absolutely blew me away with their use of fabric manipulation, 3-D machine embroidery, and embellishment. They were part of a special exhibit showcasing the work of Kent quilter, Lilian Harris.

Midnight Splendour by Lilian Harris, Kent
Midnight Splendour by Lilian Harris, Kent
Midnight Splendour, detail
Midnight Splendour, detail
Road to Chantilly by Lilian Harris of Kent
Road to Chantilly by Lilian Harris of Kent
Road to Chantilly, detail
Road to Chantilly, detail

One special exhibit carried a distinctly American flavor, inspired as it was by Barbara Brackman, her 19th-century reproduction fabrics, and her writings about the American Civil War. This was one of my favorites.

Tuesday Morning Quilt by Carole Smyth
Tuesday Morning Quilt by Carole Smyth

That’s it for now. Don’t forget to come back on Friday for Part 2 of A California Quilter Crosses the Pond and for details about our latest giveaway.

A preview of the inspiration to come in Friday's post
A preview of the inspiration to come in Friday’s post

‘Til then, happy stitching!

Darra-signature